The Rise of Crypto Lending, a Natural Progression of Peer-to-Peer Financing

Nexo

The rise of new technologies often give rise to new business models. The peer-to-peer lending space is just over a decade old and still have much to grow into. However, not long after the first P2P lender–Zopa in 2005–opened its doors, a new technology that promises to challenge traditional ways to deliver financial services emerged. […]

Nexo

The rise of new technologies often give rise to new business models. The peer-to-peer lending space is just over a decade old and still have much to grow into. However, not long after the first P2P lender–Zopa in 2005–opened its doors, a new technology that promises to challenge traditional ways to deliver financial services emerged. That technology was the blockchain, a distributed ledger that underlies the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Since then, other blockchains have been created along with new business models to suit. As it stands in 2018, crypto lending has not made a big dent in P2P lending services, but the potential is there. This article will highlight some of the more significant blockchain-based P2P lenders, which we hope will inspire a new look at technological innovation in this space.

Think of crypto lending like you would the banking industry: Even if Capital One provided perfect products at every turn, there would still be plenty of room for JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America. There would still be room for the hundreds of other banks that compete for customers.

The companies listed here are not ranked in any manner. Rather, they=se are just some of the choices available for consumers in the market for cryptocurrency loans.

1. SALT (Secured Automated Lending Technology) Lending

One of the best benefits crypto-based lending has to offer is that a lessened importance on traditional credit scores as a factor for risk assessment. SALT Lending touts blockchain-based assets as “the perfect form of collateral.” The company is using this fact to “dramatically reduce the complexity and cost of the loan process.” SALT operates under Regulation D and, in lieu of credit checks, the company does AML and KYC verifications.

Offering three tiers of product, SALT’s loans start at $5,000 and go as high as $250 million. Loan percentages run between 12 and 22 percent APR, but the borrower retains the value of the collateral currency claiming any gains and losses that happen over the life of the loan. SALT accepts Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Dogecoin as collateral, and funds loans in USD.

One fact that could be a significant factor when deciding to use the SALT Lending platform is that loans are not transferable on the blockchain, but through existing financial channels. Thus, they become securities.

It’s not foolish to base a good bit of faith in a company that has proven players on its team. Founder Erik Voorhees was also involved in founding several other crypto websites prior to starting SALT Lending. Among these include Satoshi Dice, which he later sold, Coinapult, and ShapeShift.

2. ETHlend

Unlike SALT Lending, Estonia-based ETHlend is a fully decentralized P2P platform built on the Ethereum blockchain for lending Ether as tokens for collateral. Some insiders fear that platforms that allow their loans to become securities might run the risk of being swallowed up by banks.

ETHlend lends Ethereum, Bitcoin, their own LEND tokens, and DAI tokens, as well as 180+ other Ethereum-based tokens. The company offers address-to-address loans that are sent within minutes, with no middle men, assuring that no one, not even Ethlend, can stop one’s lending or borrowing. The company plans to expand beyond Ethereum to other distributed ledger platforms in Q3 of 2019.

The company’s interest rates range from .25 to five percent MPR, and all transactions are carried out on digital wallets. Borrowers that transact in the LEND token can get a no-fee loan.

Announced earlier this week, Aave is a tech-based company designed to expand on the offerings of centralized fintech companies like PayPal and Coinbase. Aave Pocket, Aave Gaming, and Aave Lending (SaaS) are among the offerings this expansion adds to the platform.

Unfortunately, the service is not yet available everywhere including a block to U.S. citizens.

3. Nexo

A new kid on this block is Nexo, and being a new kid means that they are doing things in a new manner. Founded in Zug, Switzerland—even more of an “EF Hutton” mention than Estonia—in 2017, Nexo promises the world’s first instant crypto-backed loans. Available worldwide, Nexo loans start at $1,000 and top out at $2 million.

The process is an easy one.

  • Log on to the website.
  • Verify your account
  • Deposit crypto assets into Nexo wallet
  • Withdraw loan to your bank account

There will be brief pauses while the borrower is verified—the company complies with the highest AML and KYC (provided by Onfido) standards—and while your deposit is confirmed on the blockchain. Overall, the Nexo process reads like a rather quick and seamless process.

The platform loans Euros, USD, and Tether while accepting Ether, bitcoin, Bincance coin (BNB), and Nexo as collateral currency. The interest rate is eight percent if the collateral currency is Nexo and 16 percent for all others. Nexo assets are stored in multi-signature wallets, more than one multiple cryptographic keys are necessary to gain access, and cold storage (wallets not connected to the Internet) at BitGo and PrimeTrust.

4. LendingBlock

LendingBlock predicts that, as digital assets grow as an asset class, demand for hedging, swaps, repurchases, and short selling will increase. The currency crypto market has more than $500 billion in assets circulating with less than one percent used as collateral. That leaves lots of room for growth.

Touted as the first cross-chain lending platform for the crypto economy, the company promises a product that will help its customers access secure, transparent, and fair crypto-to-crypto loans. Not a lender itself, LendingBlock provides the platform upon which parties can enter P2P contracts. The company acts as agent for both lender and borrower, as well as security trustee of the collateral. This ensures that the borrower doesn’t face any uncovered credit risk to the lender.

All collateral deposits are held in cold storage. Those who think regulation will be necessary before the crypto market can fully mature can take comfort in the fact that the company is focused on becoming a regulated business. They have submitted the full regulatory application to the country of Gibraltar and await the regulator’s response. They have also begun regulatory processes with the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, and the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodities Futures Trading Commission in the United States.

Basing the platform on its own token (LND), which is used to make payments and receive interest on loans, allows the company to reduce the cost of exchange fees and makes it easier to manage interest payments. The use of smart contracts reduces expenses, risks, and complexity, which makes for lower costs for borrowers and higher returns for the lenders.

5. BlockFi

New York-based BlockFi might be the ideal platform for Americans who want to secure USD loans with Bitcoin and Ethereum, provided that said Americans live in any of the 44 states where the company is currently conducting business.

The attractive thing about the BlockFi platform is that it seems easy enough for a lay person to understand without any kind of financial advice. A borrower needs to meet only two requirements to qualify for a loan: They can have no liens or bankruptcies on their record, and they must have at least $15,000 of crypto assets between their Bitcoin and Ethereum portfolios.

If those criteria are met, the customer can borrow up to 35 percent of their crypto asset value, with loans ranging from $2,000 to $10 million. Interest rates go from 12 to 14 percent APR, and there is an added fee of one to four percent of the loan value. Borrowers can take a loan in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Litecoin.

Unlike other crypto-based lenders on this list, BlockFi does not have its own coin or token.

6. Unchained Capital

Texas-based Unchained Capital could very well be the platform of choice for those who want to liquidate their Bitcoin while maintaining it and seeing it go to work in the world.

Not only is the team at Unchained Capital in the market to make money as a lender, they have an idealistic side as well. Noting that 60 percent of Bitcoin sits around and does nothing, they have a goal to circulate it and use it to strengthen the platform. The company was founded by people who believe cryptocurrencies can change the world only if they’re useful.

The Unchained Capital team has designed its personal loans to be ideal for people who are looking to make large purchases, who hope to avoid tax events, and who want to invest. Their commercial loans are geared to companies that want to free up capital, expand their businesses, buy expensive equipment, and balance their portfolios.

Unchained Capital does not have its own cryptocurrency.

7. Other Companies to Consider

The crypto lending space is expanding. New lenders seem to be popping up quite often, which means that some people in the cryptocurrency space, at least, see a market for crypto-backed lending. Despite the market having taken a downturn in 2018, rebounding from the bull run last year that catapulted Bitcoin to $20,000 in December, this space is expanding. Lately, Bitcoin has been holding around the $6,500 mark. Since the majority altcoins tend to follow Bitcoin’s price, that means the market as  whole is down, yet more crypto lenders are ambling to get in the door.

Some of the other companies in the crypto lending space that might be worth checking out include BitBond, Credible Friends, Bitfinex (a crypto exchange that facilitates crypto financing transactions between parties), Celsius, Poloniex (another cryptocurrency exchange that allows traders to lend to other users), CoinLoan, Nebeus, GetLine, and BTCpop.

Authors:

Written by Paul Keenan and Allen Taylor.

Allen Taylor

Tuesday November 7 2017, Daily News Digest

fintech credit

News Comments Today’s main news: Review of OnDeck Q3 earnings. Wealthfront to be first robo to offer a mutual fund. ArchOver goes over 50M GBP lending milestone. Hexindai rises 27% on first day. NOT coming soon: Ant Financial IPO. EU to create Europe-wide crowdfunding framework. Ripio closes $37M ICO. Today’s main analysis: Marketplace lenders balance growth, quality. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Will […]

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News Summary

United States

OnDeck Q3 2017 Earnings Results Review (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

With their latest financial results released today, the firm reiterated their plans to achieve GAAP profitability in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Originations in the quarter grew to $531 million, up 14% from the prior quarter. They also reported that operating expenses were at the lowest level in more than two years.

Revenue increased to $83.7 million, up 8% over the prior year period. Not surprisingly, loans sold or designated for sale continued to fall and represented just 1.3% of term loan originations. Other Revenue increased $0.7 million from the previous quarter to $3.4 million which reflected increased revenue from OnDeck-as-a-Service. Compared to the third quarter of 2016, the company improved bottom line performance by $12 million.

Source: Lend Academy

Online lender OnDeck posts surprise third-quarter loss (Reuters), Rated: A

Online lender OnDeck Capital Inc(ONDK.N) reported an unexpected third-quarter loss on Monday after the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma offset higher interest income and lower expenses, and its shares fell nearly 4 percent.

Chief Executive Officer Noah Breslow said on a call with analysts that the company had increased its loss reserves by $3.5 million after the hurricanes hit some of its small-business clients in August and September.

Wealthfront set to be the first robo to offer its own mutual fund (FinancialPlanning), Rated: AAA

Now Wealthfront wants to return the favor, filing with the SEC on Wednesday for a mutual fund offering of its own. If approved, it would make Wealthfront the first major independent robo to offer its own fund.

Dubbed the Wealthfront Risk Parity Fund, the derivatives fund will invest in global developed and emerging market equities, global developed and emerging markets fixed income, real estate investment trusts and commodities, according to the filing.

The fund will carry a 51-basis point expense ratio. It will be made available to Wealthfront investors with no contribution limitations and to institutional investors with a $5 million investment minimum.

Marketplace lenders balance growth and quality (Banking Exchange), Rated: AAA

Fintech lenders now account for nearly a third of the personal unsecured loan market, from nearly 0% in 2010. The new players appear poised to not only continue building share there, but to begin gaining share in other credit types.

Rapid growth in personal loans

Wirth says TransUnion records indicate that there are over 100 fintech consumer lenders in the U.S. now—way beyond the usual companies mentioned in this area—and that new firms with new models continue to enter the market.

Source: TransUnion LLC. All rights reserved

TransUnion studied over 40 million personal loans originated by banks, credit unions, traditional finance companies, and fintech consumer lenders from 2014 to 2016. Among the findings of the research was that in spite of the perception that fintech personal loan borrowers skew towards the young end of the demographic spectrum, this is not the case. In fact, among the four categories of lenders, consumers 18-29 accounted for the smallest portion of borrowers from fintech lenders.

Source: TransUnion LLC. All rights reserved

Reviewing quality and return

A surprise for some in the TransUnion research is the fintechs’ choice of credit strata. Many see fintech consumer lenders chiefly as subprime creditors, but it turns out that six out of ten fintech personal loans are made to prime or near-prime borrowers. The latest figures indicate that 10% of fintech personal loan originations are subprime borrowers, while among all lenders the total is 14%.

Source: TransUnion LLC. All rights reserved

Using the risk-return methodology outlined above, TransUnion computes that the first-year effective portfolio risk-returns rank as follows: traditional finance companies, 11.5%; fintech lenders, 8.7%; banks, 6.7%; and credit unions, 6.3%.

Fintech will change more in the next 5 years than it has in the last 30 (CNBC), Rated: AAA

Today, Schulman said the person-to-person payment business is valued between $35 billion and $40 billion. In five years, its projected value is estimated to reach $335 billion.

Similarly, “online digital payments today are about $3 trillion,” the CEO said. “By 2020, three years from now, it’s supposed to be over $8 trillion. And we’re a leader in that market right now with 218 million people using the platform, so we just got to keep delivering on what customers want, merchants want and to stay that market leaders.”

PayPal CEO: Fintech will change more in the next 5 years than it has in the last 30 from CNBC.

Affirm Launches New Way to Pay For Holiday Travel (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Affirm, Inc., the company started by serial entrepreneur Max Levchin to provide fair and honest financial products, today introduced Travel with Affirm in time for the end-of-year holiday season. Travel with Affirm lets consumers book their travel plans, including airfare, hotel rooms, luxury suites, and more while splitting their purchases into manageable monthly payments. Charter partners in Travel with Affirm include Expedia, offering flight-and-hotel packages; CheapAir, offering low prices on airfare and more; and Suiteness, for those that want to treat themselves to an exclusive, luxury hotel suite.

According to a recent study conducted by Affirm, Inc. of 1,000 U.S. adults about holiday shopping habits, 61% of respondents said that holiday spending is a source of family strife. Over a third (34%) said they are worried about how they are going to cover their holiday spending costs this year.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that, according to another recent study conducted by Affirm of over 1,600 people, two of the top three reasons consumers use deferred interest products is for vacation and travel expenses along with holiday shopping. 67 percent of respondents also believe that some credit products are designed to purposefully cheat consumers.

“We know how tough traveling during the holiday season can be,” said Kyle Killion, co-founder and chief of product at Suiteness. “So, partnering with Affirm to offer as low as 0% APR on hotel suites with the ability to easily pay over time allows our customers to enjoy the holidays while knowing exactly what the final cost for their suite will be.”

In 2016 alone, U.S. consumers paid over $94 billion in fees. That doesn’t even include the $70.4 billion in interest fees credit card issuers made.

The simplest way to book travel
Using Travel with Affirm is quick and easy. All it takes is five pieces of personal information for a real-time credit decision. And then it’s up to the consumer to select the monthly payment plan—3, 6, or 12 months—that fits their budget.

Any U.S. resident 18 years or older (19 years old in Alabama or a ward of the state in Nebraska) is eligible to use Affirm.

And, paying Affirm bills is equally straightforward. After making their purchase, the consumer receives timely e-mail and SMS reminders on when their next payment is due. Alternatively, they can set up Autopay for recurring automatic payments.

“Credit cards are broken,” said Levchin. “If all Americans used Affirm instead of traditional revolving lines of credit, we could save people $90 billion a year in fees alone.”

CommonLoan Marketplace Milestone: Over $ 680 Million in Loans Processed (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Commercial real estate lending platform CommLoan announced on Monday it has successfully processed more than $680 million in loans since its launch in 2014.

Impact Housing REIT Makes Top 14 Non-Accredited Real Estate Crowdfunding Sites (BusinessWire), Rated: A

Impact Housing REIT, LLC (ImpactHousing.com), today is pleased to announce that it has made The Real Estate Crowdfunding Review’s 2017-2018 Top 14 Nonaccredited Real Estate Crowdfunding Sites, receiving Industry Honors for Most Experienced Sponsors, and Most Socially Conscious, the only award given in the category.

Real Estate Issuers Need Online, Alternative Investing Processes to Thrive (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Blaine McLaughlin, chief operating officer of VIA Folio, says it’s time for real estate issuers to move away from the traditional capital raising process and use online brokerage technology. McLaughlin, who recently spoke at the IPA Vision 2017 Conference, said investors have embraced technology in every other aspect of their lives, so real estate issuers must now meet them on their own terms.

The additional benefits of using an online, alternative investing process include:

  • Meeting advisors and investors on their own turf. More advisors are using alternative investments to diversify client portfolios and differentiate their business.
  • Reaching accredited and non-accredited investors. Issuers that choose to raise capital under the JOBS Act have more flexibility when marketing to investors.
  • Offering different ways to invest. Advisors consider many factors, including security type, before making investment decisions. Issuers that use Folio’s online brokerage technology can choose to offer publicly registered or private securities, including Reg A+, Reg D, S-11 and small-cap Reg A+ IPOs.
  • Lowering investment minimums. For real estate securities issuers, high investment minimums are a necessary evil to keep expenses down. An online brokerage process – where subscription, closing, price reporting, statements and other services are done online – reduces administrative expenses, in turn enabling lower investment minimums.

CFX Markets Raises $ 2.17M Seed/Series A Funding (FINSMES), Rated: A

CFX Markets, a Chicago, IL-based secondary market trading platform for alternative assets, closed a $2.17M Seed/Series A funding round.

The round was led by West Loop Ventures, with participation from M25 Group, Origami Capital Partners, Harvard Business School Angels of Chicago, SixThirty Ventures, and angel investors David Schwartz of Waterton Capital and David Krell, founder of ISE.

Why banks are sub-branding new customer offerings (Tearsheet), Rated: A

Marcus by Goldman Sachs, for example, touts itself as the startup inside Goldman Sachs that built an entirely digital personal loan product for consumers — a new set of customers for the 148-year-old company. Two weeks ago JPMorgan Chase introduced Finn, an app for people who would rather skip the branches for completely mobile checking and savings accounts with personal finance tools. Last week, Wells Fargo announced a similar offering called Greenhouse, a standalone mobile banking app with digital-only accounts and personal finance features.

For large legacy institutions, it’s hard to make changes and scale them both across the company and the consumer base. For banks, it’s much easier to create and brand an entirely new experience, which is partly why they’re launching things like Marcus, Finn and Greenhouse. Doing so also ends up being a sort of innovation showcase for their peers and prospective employees.

“A sub-brand allows us a sandbox to rapidly innovate and learn from consumer preferences and behaviors, while maintaining the core Chase brand which our customers know and love,” she said.

Goldman Sachs plans rebranding of online consumer bank (American Banker), Rated: A

Last year Goldman Sachs found a warmer, fuzzier way to connect with the U.S. public, and now it’s doubling down on that approach.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs is the brand name for the Wall Street bank’s one-year-old digital consumer-lending business. The name is a reference to Marcus Goldman, who founded the company in 1869.

Digital investments give small banks deeper borrower pool (American Banker), Rated: A

With fewer customers showing up in branches for coffee and local gossip, some community banks are digitally transforming themselves to bring Main Street to people’s homes.

In July, SourceMedia Research surveyed 304 chief information officers from banks, credit unions and other financial institutions with assets ranging from less than $100 million to more than $10 billion, and nearly 70% said they planned to spend more on technology in 2017.

“Community banks don’t just compete against banks in their immediate community. We now compete with every bank, whether it be bricks-and-mortar or internet-based, credit unions, payment processors, credit card companies, investment houses, fintechs, peer-to-peer payments, you name it,” said Ryan James, Surety’s CEO.

Crawford noted customers have increased expectations when it comes to lending, in large part due to experiences with online lenders that tend to offer quick decisions and digital-first experiences.

Source: American Banker

Big banks target Venmo (CB Insights Email), Rated: A

Venmo, now owned by PayPal and acquired for a reported $26.2M, is certainly one of the best tech M&A transactions ever.

PayPal recently extended the “pay with Venmo” capability to 2 million online retailers with a focus on enabling e-commerce via mobile.

ReliaMax Selected to Service and Insure MetaBank’s Additional $ 73 Million Private Student Loan Portfolio (BusinessWire), Rated: A

ReliaMax, the leading private student lending platform for banks, credit unions and alternative lenders, announced today that the company is now servicing and insuring an additional $73 million in private student loans for MetaBank, the bank subsidiary of Meta Financial Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:CASH). In December 2016, ReliaMax was selected to service and insure MetaBank’s initial $151 million private student loan portfolio acquisition.

AI-driven finance app Douugh partners Choice Financial for checking account (Finextra), Rated: A

San Francisco-based fintech startup Douugh has teamed up with community bank Choice Financial to launch an app-based checking account and debit card that will lean heavily on AI to help users better manage their money.

Choice has also made an investment in Douugh, which has raised $2.5 million to date and is the brainchild of Andy Taylor, who previously founded Australia’s largest P2P lending platform, SocietyOne.

FinTech is the New Imperative that Lending Companies Need to Embrace (CIOReview), Rated: A

In today’s fast-paced life, where customers are short of patience and starved of time, an old-school retail lending organization doesn’t really make a compelling survival case. In the last couple of years, however, retail lending has witnessed a sudden surge in interest. Well, the reasons are a no-brainer; it is the optimization of financial technology that has worked as a catalyst and led to welcome changes in the landscape. Technology has enabled banks to get rid of sluggish loan management process, curbing the costs and delay predicament that has impeded the growth of many retail lending processes.

eMoney Advisor Announces Expanded Business Development Organization (Business Insider), Rated: B

eMoney Advisor (eMoney) announced today the hiring of Jeffrey Schwantz as SVP, Head of Enterprise Sales and Shannon Porro as VP, Strategic Partnerships. These two new roles report to eMoney’s Head of Business Development, Stephen Langlois, who joined the company in May.  The additions reflect eMoney’s commitment to expanding its presence with larger financial institutions and to better support its customers’ needs as the company evolves its planning-led wealth management platform to enable enhanced growth, profitability and risk management of its diverse customer base. Approximately 60 percent of eMoney’s nearly 50,000 users are affiliated with individual advisors while the remaining 40 percent are affiliated with firms, larger financial institutions and enterprises.

CFTC Commissioner Quintenz Names Margo Bailey Special Counsel (MondoVisione), Rated: B

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Commissioner Brian Quintenz announced today that Margo Bailey will serve as his Special Counsel.

Prior to joining Commissioner Quintenz’s office, Bailey worked as Counsel at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) where she reviewed the derivatives activities of national banks and supported the OCC’s Fintech initiative.

United Kingdom

ArchOver surpasses £50 million lending milestone (Finextra), Rated: AAA

ArchOver, the peer-to-peer (P2P) business lending platform, has facilitated over £50 million of lending with no losses or late payments.

The ArchOver platform produces average yields of 7.3% per annum, and comes with multiple security measures built in to protect investors.

PropTech Lending: High Tech vs. Old-School Underwriting (AltFi), Rated: AAA

Interestingly, it seems property lenders are disproportionately wary of the pitfalls in automating credit underwriting – more so than their colleagues in SME and consumer lending verticals, it seems. And rightly so.

Within SME and consumer loans, many sophisticated tech lenders principally rely on automated systems to perform their credit assessments. Many use a statistical approach; intelligent systems first gather borrower data, then smart algorithms interpret those to assess credit integrity and price the loans. Where the underlying loans are large in number and small in size, there is safety in numbers: the statistical approach is supported by the granularity and homogeneity of the underlying asset class. More often than not, the alternative approach – to manually underwrite each loan – is somewhere between too costly and impossible.

  • Limited digital availability of data is, and will remain, a key handicap for property lenders looking to scale with enhanced tech.
  • Portfolio risk tolerance is substantially lower for property lenders thanwithin consumer or SME lending. Consequently, a property lender’s attitude to resolving the tension between tech (to reach scale) and manual underwriting (to keep loan books robust) will remain different.
  • Even if all relevant data was digitally available, and even if property loan amounts were smaller, real estate assets cannot be classified in the way consumers can. A statistical approach to credit underwriting will miss important nuances and hence remains risky.

Could the rate rise boost returns for peer-to-peer lender Zopa? (AltFi), Rated: A

The Monetary Policy Committee has raised interest rates for the first time in ten years, from 0.25 per cent to 0.5 per cent.

More so than any other peer-to-peer lender, Zopa has been wrestling with the base rate, which was cut to its all-time low of 0.25 per cent in August 2016.

It opted for the latter course, several times dropping its interest rates, and so too its target returns for investors. In fact, Zopa has doubled down on that strategy in recent months, pledging in August to cut back on its riskiest loans, with losses growing beyond expectation.

Small businesses turn to alternative finance to fund growth (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

A poll of 1,000 small business owners by payments company Worldpay found 52 per cent are concerned that traditional routes to finance, including bank loans, might not be available at the same levels in the coming year.

Nearly a third (30 per cent) have already encountered difficulties securing funding through these traditional channels.

Meanwhile, 40 per cent of younger business owners claimed the growth of alternative finance options has made them less reliant on banks for funding.

Robo-advice responsibility (Lexology), Rated: B

The FCA identified two particular regulatory reasons why it considers that robo-advice presents a big opportunity:

  • since the FCA has a competition objective, they see that robo-advice can drive innovation, delivering economy and efficiency and reaching underserved consumers;
  • the final report of the Financial Advice Market Review which was published in 2016 and concluded that steps needed to be taken to make the provision of advice and guidance to the mass market more cost-effective as well as addressing consumers’ lack of confidence when making financial decisions.
China

Hexindai prices $ 50 million best-efforts IPO at $ 10 midpoint; up 27% on first day (NASDAQ), Rated: AAA

Hexindai, a Chinese marketplace for peer-to-peer lending, raised $50 million by offering 5 million ADSs at $10. The company had planned to offer 2.7 million to 8.9 million ADSs at a range of $9 to $11 in a min-max, best-efforts IPO. On Friday, Hexindai began trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol HX. The stock ended its first day at $12.66 (+27%) but traded down to $11.23 (-11%) on Monday.

Jack Ma says no Ant Financial IPO anytime soon (Tech in Asia), Rated: AAA

Speaking in front of media on Saturday, the billionaire Alibaba founder said that there’s no timeline for when Ant Financial will list, and they will only consider the IPO route – ie: the possibility of going ahead with it – two years later, reports Yicai.

“Regarding Ant Financial going public, we don’t have a time yet and we don’t know whether it will be in China, Hong Kong, or in the USA,” said Ma. “We will not really think about it in the next 12 or 18 months because there’s huge potential in inclusive financing and other tech-related opportunities. We will probably think about it two years later, but not now.”

Online Lender Fincera Announces 2 For 1 Stock Split (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Fincera (OTCQB:YUANF) , a China based peer to peer online lender targeting small and medium-sized businesses and individuals in China, has announced that its Board of Directors has approved a 2 for 1 stock split of the Fincera’s outstanding shares of common stock in the form of a 100% stock dividend payable on or about November 8 , 2017 to shareholders of record on November 1 , 2017. Stockholders will receive one additional share for each share held on that date .

Chinese police to step up crackdown on financial crime (Reuters), Rated: A

Chinese police will intensity a crackdown on financial crime to safeguard national security and fend off financial risks, the public security ministry said in an online statement on Tuesday.

The ministry said it will focus on crimes involving illegal fundraising, the online finance industry, securities and futures markets, and financial institutions.

Is Technology About to Decimate White-Collar Work? (Technology Review), Rated: B

Lee pointed to several of the investments made by his company, Sinovation Ventures, as clear signs of how routine office work is already being transformed by AI. For example, Lee has backed Smart Finance Group, a company that uses machine learning to determine a person’s eligibility for a payday loan. Sinovation has also invested in companies that automate customer service, training, and other routine office services.

Lee identified four distinct but nonsequential waves of AI. The first wave is being fueled by the availability of large quantities of labeled data. This has given big Internet companies, both in China and in the U.S., an advantage in building their businesses and cementing AI expertise.

The second wave—which is more relevant to the kind of workplace disruption Lee sees coming—is based on the availability of company data, especially in industries such as law and accounting.

A third wave relies on companies generating data through new products or apps, or by paying for it to be created.

European Union

The European Commission Hopes to Scale Crowdfunding by Creating a European-Wide Framework (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

The European Commission has published an Inception Impact Assessment that pitches a legislative proposal for an EU framework for crowdfunding including peer to peer lending. The initiative is accepting feedback from interested parties until November 27, 2017. The expectation is the Commission will create a framework that is supportive of the policy for a Capital Market Union the heart of the mission of the EC. Thjs new framework is expected by Q1 of 2018.

Overall, the main policy objectives are as follows:

  • Enable platforms to scale cross-border: creating the required conditions such as licensing regimes that can be used across the EU without requiring further authorization in each EU country.
  • Provide platforms with a proportionate and effective risk management framework: cross-border activity requires a high level of trust.
International

Ripio Closes $ 37 Million ICO for Ethereum Lending Network (Coindesk), Rated: AAA

Blockchain startup Ripio has raised $37 million in an initial coin offering (ICO).

The RCN whitepaper indicates that 42.5 percent of the tokens would be dedicated to a pre-sale maximum, with 8.5 percent set aside for a public sale minimum. The remaining 49 percent were reserved for operational needs, such as incentives, marketing and expenses.

Millenials get finance advice from bots! (iAfrica.com), Rated: A

Forrester surveyed online adults in 20 markets to determine their need for and perception of financial services. The resulting report, “Millennials Want Financial Advice, With or Without Humans”, shows that Millennials:

  • Want financial advice: Results from the study showed that in Europe, 32% of online adults between the ages of 18 and 37 say they “rely on financial advice from professionals,” compared with 29% of older generations.
  • Are not afraid to share personal information in order to get the advice: At least two thirds of US Millennials were willing to share personal data in order to get improved service from their financial institution.
  • Are not confident in the current advice they are receiving: Only 38% of US Millennials are confident that a bank or credit union will offer them valuable financial advice, compared with 46% of their older counterparts. Moreover, just over two-thirds of US Millennials say, they don’t know who to approach in order to get reliable financial advice, compared with less than a third of older generations.

While 26% of US adults say they prefer to use mobile devices to access financial services and advice, almost half (46%) of Millennials say they would rather use their mobile phone for this.

China and Australia sign agreement on fintech cooperation (OpenGovAsia), Rated: B

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (‘CSRC’) and Australian Securities and Investments Commission (‘ASIC’) have entered into an agreement yesterday to promote innovation in financial services in their respective markets.

China is Australia’s largest two-way trading partner in goods and services (valued at AU$155.2 billion in 2016, up 3.7% on the previous year). China is also Australia’s largest export market (AU$93 billion in 2016) and Australia’s largest source of imports (AU$62.1 billion in 2016).

India

Top 10 Trends to Look Out in Fin-Tech Industry for Year 2018 (BW Disrupt), Rated: AAA

  1. ATMs will start disappearing
  2. Credit decisions will go beyond looking at CIBIL scores for individuals and SMEs – Credit providers will start leveraging other forms of digitized data to evaluate ability and willingness to pay of the borrower.
  3. Chat and payments platforms will start integrating
  4. Payments and lending platforms will start integrating – Payment platforms will see thin margins in their payments business and will start building or partnering with lending platforms. For lending platforms, a payment platform is a cheaper customer acquisition avenue and also a source for credit assessment data.
  5. Fraud Prevention solutions will start emerging
  6. Wealth platforms will go direct to consumer
  7. New themes will emerge in Insurtech
  8. Large institutions will consolidate credit: While I don’t predict the death of P2P lending entirely, as interest rates keep reducing and costs of capital for larger institutions keep reducing, it is difficult to see P2P lenders getting any scale. The only advantage that P2P lenders have is information asymmetry but with newer methods to collect data on the borrower, I see that advantage diminishing gradually.
  9. Regtech solutions becoming mature
  10. Greater localization of bots – Over 30 startups are working on bots for the fintech sector in India.

Why India’s Improved World Bank Ranking Will Boost Its Startups (Forbes), Rated: A

Following India’s meteoric rise to crack the top 100 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report, the country’s startup community is confident of attracting more foreign investments across sectors and emerging as a highly preferred investment destination in the region.

This year, India has improved its performance in six of those areas — specifically, there’s been a marked improvement in getting an electricity connection to start a new business, resolving insolvency, obtaining bank credit and tax reforms.

Rajat Gandhi, founder of P2P lending platform Faircent, said: “The ranking is a shot in the arm for the government, which has eased the way for fintechs to do business. It has become simpler for startups like mine to approach regulators for business. Moreover, this will boost the confidence of investors and allow more capital to come our way.” Prateek Mehta, cofounder of investment platform Upwardly.in agreed: “We are moving towards an entrepreneur-rich economy, so raising funds and scaling operations should be easier. With reforms like GST, the burden of compliance is greatly reduced, especially in cross-state businesses, which can simplify the operations of a startup. Compliance can be made even easier in the first three years of a startup.”

Wilful defaulters cannot bid for their companies: SBI chief (India Times), Rated: A

State Bank of India (SBI) chairman Rajnish Kumar on Monday said that promoters of defaulting companies are within their rights to bid for their businesses which are on the block following insolvency proceedings. However, wilful defaulters or those borrowers who have diverted funds will not find any place in the bidding process, he said.

Asia

Singapore’s Central Bank Chief Has a Warning for Fintech Investors (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

While technological innovations such as blockchain and the area of big data analytics can result in powerful applications, people should be wary of some peer-to-peer lending platforms and the rapidly rising values of cryptocurrencies, Menon said in an interview with Bloomberg News late last month.

One potential area of concern for Menon is some examples of P2P lending, in which platforms connect investors with borrowers, and make money from charging both parties a fee.

Still, high-profile cases of malfeasance such as Ezubo — dubbed China’s biggest Ponzi scheme — have brought to light instances of how they can be used to defraud investors. In China, almost 4,000 P2P platforms have closed or run into difficulties since 2011, according to Yingcan Group, which tracks the data.

Another area of concern is in the use of big data, where increasing use of mobile phones, social media and the internet has given companies unprecedented access to customer data.

The MAS has set aside about $165 million for a five-year plan to nurture fintech and is spearheading Project Ubin, a blockchain-based project to facilitate cross-border payments. Last week, the regulator unveiled a so-called transformation map for financial services that aims to create 4,000 new jobs annually in the industry — a quarter of that in fintech alone.

Read a transcript of Ravi Menon’s comments on fintech

Kinerjapay Preparing to Launch Peer to Peer Lending Service (PR Newswire), Rated: A

KinerjaPay Corp., (OTCQB: KPAY), a digital payment and ecommerce platform (“KinerjaPay” or the “Company”), announced today that it is preparing to launch a peer-to-peer lending application to provide Indonesia’s largely underserved consumer sector with access to credit.

Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority estimates the country’s demand for consumer and small business financing at approximately US$125 billion. Domestic financial institutions are able to address an estimated US$50 billion, leaving a financing gap of about US$75 billion which is not being served by financial institutions.

KinerjaPay’s P2P application will offer loans in the range of $100 to $10,000 to individuals, and $5,000 to $500,000 to businesses over fixed periods of 12 to 60 months. The interest rate charged for borrowed funds falls between 8% and 18%, depending on the loan grade or creditworthiness of the borrowing entity. The Company will receive a fee of 1% of the amount of borrower payments received within 15 days of the due date of the loan.

Securities Commission Malaysia: Equity Crowdfunding, P2P Lending & DLT Gaining Traction as it Embraces Digital Innovation (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

According to SC, the equity crowdfunding and peer to peer financing platforms have funded 450 campaigns, raising a total of RM 50 million  (USD $11.8 million) to meet the financing needs of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

For equity crowdfunding in particular, more than 70% of the issuers have women or youth as founders, with 40% of the investors under the age of 35.

Canada

Report aims to enhance fintech innovation and competition (Investment Executive), Rated: A

Canadian investors should receive clear, upfront fee disclosure, and securities regulators should be working with robo-advisors to help facilitate the development of cheap alternatives to traditional advice, according to a draft report from the Competition Bureau.

On Monday, the federal agency released the draft report on its market study concerning technology‑led innovation in the Canadian financial services (fintech) sector in a variety of market segments, including payments, crowdfunding, and investment advice.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Friday August 4 2017, Daily News Digest

immediate payments

News Comments Today’s main news: SoftBank invests $250M in Kabbage. SoFi begins search for IPO-focused CFO. MarketInvoice has record trading day. George Banco acquired by Non-Standard Finance. Yirendai made $40M net profits in Q2. ID Finance partners with Da Vinci Capital on $200M fintech fund launch. Lendingkart Group raises $10M in debt funding. Today’s main analysis: Square Q2 shareholder letter. Immediate payments […]

immediate payments

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

International

Australia/New Zealand

India

Asia

Israel

News Summary

United States

SoftBank invests in US online lender to small business (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

SoftBank is investing $250m in Kabbage, one of the biggest US online lenders to small businesses, in a deal that could provide the firepower for a potential takeover of OnDeck Capital, a rival digital lender.

Kathryn Petralia, co-founder of Kabbage, told the Financial Times that the deal would finance growth in the company’s direct lending operation, which has provided nearly $3.5bn of funding to more than 100,000 small businesses in the US.

There has been speculation that Kabbage is planning to make a bid for OnDeck, a rival online lender that went public in 2014 and has since suffered an 80 per cent fall in its share price, hit by growing losses, rising defaults and higher funding costs.

SoFi Hints at IPO, Reports Record Results (WSJ), Rated: AAA

Social Finance Inc. posted record earnings and loan volume in the second quarter, as the privately held company’s chief executive hinted that it is moving closer to an initial public offering.

In a letter to investors reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, SoFi Chief Executive Mike Cagney sounded more optimistic about a potential public offering, as opposed to previous forums in which he said no deal would be coming in the foreseeable future.

(LT Editor: Here’s the letter again–in case you missed it yesterday).

Source: SoFi

Goldman Sachs is Going Big on Lending (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

The firm created GS Select to reach clients of nearly 4,000 independent investment advisors from Fidelity Investments. Clients will be able to borrow from $75,000 to $25 million backed by their investment portfolios.

What’s interesting about this move is that it could be expanded to other RIAs and financial advisors not just through Fidelity. We’ve seen this type of model before with self described “Lending as a Service” fintech companies, but this time it’s a big bank that has built this technology.

Source: Lend Academy

Square  Q2 2017 Shareholder Letter (LendIt), Rated: AAA

In the second quarter, our top-line results reflect our continued ability to attract larger sellers and increase product usage through cross-selling. Total GPV grew 32% year over year, and GPV from larger sellers grew 45% year over year. Transaction-based revenue increased 32% year over year—the same rate as GPV, which is a result of our ability to maintain transaction revenue margin. Subscription and services-based revenue nearly doubled year over year. Strong top-line growth, lower risk loss rates, and ongoing operating expense leverage drove another quarter of significant EBITDA and margin improvement.

We grew Square Capital loan volume 68% year over year and further diversified our investor base.

 

Source: Square Q2 2017 Shareholder Letter

Read the full report here.

An Australian Entrepreneur And Ron Suber Want To Fix America’s Student Debt Crisis With A Fintech Solution (Benzinga), Rated: A

A trillion-dollar black cloud of student debt hangs over multiple generations of Americans. Student debt is delaying marriages, major purchases, home ownership and general enjoyment of life for millions of people. There’s more student debt than even credit card debt.

Enter Credible CEO Stephen Dash. The Australian entrepreneur is taking inspiration from his home country’s approach to offer student borrowers a marketplace of easier options to get and refinance loans. Australia has an income-based debt repayment system, and Credible’s tech helps borrowers refinance to make affordable payments.

loanDepot’s Groundbreaking Tech Spurs Demand for New Innovation Lab (PR Newswire), Rated: A

loanDepot, America’s lender, today announced details of its new standalone tech campus, the mello ™ Innovation Lab. At this unique facility, the LD tech team will continue to innovate and expand mello, the company’s proprietary digital-lending technology.

With loanDepot’s goal to transform the lending industry, its mello ecosystem is shaping lending’s future as it expands its online and offline consumer relationship model. mello’s technology includes an intuitive web-based consumer portal, a state-of-the-art, mobile point-of-sale system, and a fully-digital mortgage loan application experience. The company has invested $80 million to date on its digital-first technology strategy.

loanDepot’s mello exists within a larger next-gen lending ecosystem that is boosted with the integration of digital-marketing tools and by third-party data enrichment that ensure greater accuracy, speed and certainty throughout the origination experience. On a massive scale, mello is changing the loan origination process into a digital consumer experience, making it faster, easier, and more accurate.

USAA lets members bare their financial souls to Alexa (American Banker), Rated: A

USAA went live Wednesday morning with a virtual assistant that works with Amazon’s Alexa voice interaction device and its corresponding shopping app. Now, USAA members — at least the first 400 that sign up at USAA Labs — can ask Alexa a range of questions about their accounts, balances, spending and transactions, and the bot will answer with specific details from the member’s USAA card and bank accounts.

In so doing, USAA is joining a small group of financial institutions — including Capital One, American Express and several credit unions — that have created Alexa Skills, as the chatbots that work with Alexa are called.

US CFTC Launches Initiatives to Promote Fintech in the Futures and Swaps Markets (Lexology), Rated: A

First, the CFTC announced Project KISS—“Keep It Simple, Stupid”—as a forum to examine how its existing rules might be applied in less costly and burdensome ways. Second, the CFTC launched LabCFTC as a way to promote responsible fintech and regulatory technology (“regtech”) innovation. Together, these initiatives appear to be a significant part of the CFTC’s response to calls for streamlined regulation from the industry, the White House and some members of Congress.

Project KISS

The CFTC website specifically invites public input on the following five “KISS Initiatives”:5

  1. Registration—the process of becoming regulated by the CFTC as any of the several entity types that the agency regulates
  2. Reporting—all reporting obligations, including swap data and recordkeeping
  3. Clearing—clearing services in connection with various contracts and transactions
  4. Executing—the execution of futures and swaps transactions
  5. Miscellaneous—any topics not specifically enumerated above

LabCFTC

This initiative is intended to enhance the agency’s involvement in fintech and regtech7 solutions and to support the goals of (1) providing regulatory certainty for fintech innovators and (2) enabling more efficient regulation through the use of emerging technologies. LabCFTC contemplates a variety of means to accomplish these objectives, including:

  1. Proactive outreach to and collaboration with the fintech industry to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the CFTC’s current regulatory framework as applied to new technologies
  2. Participation in research and engagement with academia and professionals to harness and promote the advantages of fintech/regtech for the CFTC and the markets it regulates
  3. Collaboration with other financial regulators at home and abroad and the sharing of information about promising fintech applications and their potential risks
  4. The tracking of fintech developments to ensure that CFTC regulation supports rather than impedes innovation

Money360’s just getting started (Bankless Times), Rated: A

The company closed $143 million in loans in Q2, bringing its total to more than $350 million. It is on pace to top the $500 million mark before the end of 2017.

Many D.C.-area homeowners are guilty of this financial no-no — financing renovations on credit cards (The Washington Post), Rated: A

A May study by Hearth, a financial technology start-up that provides support for homeowners making renovation decisions, found that 12 percent of Americans planned to finance their renovation with a credit card, which is one of the most expensive ways to finance the cost.

The Hearth Home Renovation Survey, which asked 2,000 homeowners about their remodeling plans for the coming year, found the number of people planning to use a credit card to pay for their renovation is even higher in the Washington region at 16 percent.

In this region, 52 percent of homeowners prefer to pay with savings or cash, compared with 62 percent nationally. D.C.-area residents are also more likely to finance their project with a loan — 32 percent — compared with 26 percent nationally.

Computer says no: robo-advice is growing but we still don’t trust it (The Conversation), Rated: B

People are open to receiving financial advice from robots, our studiesshow, but there might be a way to go to in convincing people to trust them over a human.

We surveyed 138 people about their attitudes to, and preferences for, superannuation advice from a human or a computer. Unsurprisingly, most stated they would prefer to deal with a human across a broad range of financial decisions.

Some did prefer the computer – these tended to be younger people, and those on higher incomes.

Ideas to Help Cash-Strapped or Underbanked Consumers (Southeast Missourian), Rated: B

With the inception of new types of loans, cash-strapped customers can borrow a certain amount from alternative lenders. These loans entail borrowing money against your next paycheck. Unlike traditional payday loans, these lenders allow their customers a fair grace period to make their repayment, making it easier for borrowers to repay and meet their other financial needs. The traditional lenders, on the other hand, require borrowers to repay their full loan amount with their next paycheck.

Peer-to-peer funding is an alternative to acquiring financial aid. This entails letting other businesses invest in your business venture. Finding willing investors is not a hard process itself as you can acquire them by applying online. Small businesses can source one to five-year loans. The loans are available from widely known businesses like Lending Club.

Private Lenders to Gain Insight from Industry Experts (Benzinga), Rated: B

American Association of Private Lenders (AAPL) will hold its eighth annual conference Sunday, November 12 through Tuesday, November 14 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The keynote speaker will be Daren Blomquist, Senior Vice President of Communications at ATTOM Data Solutions, formerly RealtyTrac, curator of the nation’s largest fused property database. The AAPL annual conference is one of the largest national events for private lenders and will include a full slate of speakers, resources, education and networking. More information can be found at .

First Associates Loan Servicing Opens a New 1000-Seat Operations Center in Baja California (Benzinga), Rated: B

First Associates Loan Servicing announced today the opening of their new 1000-seat capacity operations center in Baja California, Mexico. This state-of-the-art center will support the continued global expansion of First Associates and enable the company to continue delivering first-class service and security for their clients.

United Kingdom

RateSetter Milestone: Investors Fund £2 Billion of Loans & Have Earned More Than £76 Million in Interest (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

RateSetter recently announced its lenders have now delivered more than £2 billion in loans to people and businesses across the UK and in doing so have earned over £76 million in interest. According to the online lender, 94% of its lenders are individuals looking for a decent return on their money by investing, and accepting some degree of risk, rather than settling for the pitiful interest rates offered on bank deposits.

P2P business platform MarketInvoice marks record trading day (AltFi), Rated: AAA

The company had more invoice advances on 1 August than any other day.

The trading platform saw £4.1m  in invoice advances to UK businesses on Monday, a record setting day for the firm.

Usually £3.2m is the average amount that is advanced in a day. The increase in trading is largely do to MarketInvoice Pro, an invoice discounting facility.

RateSetter-backed lender acquired by Non-Standard Finance (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

RATESETTER investors are likely to get repaid early by George Banco following the acquisition of the guarantor loans provider by Non-Standard Finance.

Approximately £30m of RateSetter lending is currently outstanding to George Banco and many lenders will be repaid early as a result of the refinancing.

Blend Network launches with vow to be the “Goldman Sachs of P2P” (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

Blend Network will offer asset-backed property loans to retail and high-net-worth individuals, as well as hedge funds and other institutional investors. P2P specialist F&P will act as introducer for all of its loans, although Blend Network’s chief executive Yann Murciano said that he would be open to further partnerships in the future, as the business scales up.

P2P lending looks less than attractive on a forward-looking basis (AltFi), Rated: A

But, and yes, there is an important caveat, I am beginning to sense an important tipping point. Returns of between 4 and 6% pa from the big platforms – with an emphasis on the lower range of that spectrum – haven’t changed too much (in fact they’ve slightly fallen back). But I’m increasingly thinking that these returns are now inadequate for the potential of increased risk.

If one comes from a lending POV (point of view) then I would argue that the current returns are woefully inadequate, given where we are in the lending cycle.

  • The big banks are starting to increase their provisioning for bad debts
  • Here in the UK we’ve probably reached Peak Unsecured Lending with the BoE bearing down on all lenders about risk, worried senseless about a downturn in consumer spending as Brexit grinds on
  • The car lending market is quite clearly close to a systemic meltdown
  • ‘challenges’ are already appearing within the P2P space, most recently at Ratesetter where its wholesale lending capacity is being wound down
  • The housing market looks more vulnerable than ever before, with the very real possibility that we’ll see a steady drip feed of small price declines
China

Yirendai Made $ 40M Net Profits in Q2 and Dividend for the First Time (Xing Ping She), Rated: AAA

Yirendai, the first US-listed Chinese internet finance company, has recently issued its financial report for the Q2, 2017. In the second quarter of 2017, Yirendai has reached the loans volume of $1.22bn, increasing by 18 percent from the last quarter, especially increased 80 percent from the same period in 2016. By the end of second quarter, the accumulated loans transaction of Yirendai was up to $7.1bn.

Yirendai’s main revenue was charged for service fee from borrowers and lenders. As a result, its income scale is increasing rapidly with the fast growth of loans volume. In the period, Yirendai has made net income of $176 million, increasing by 16 percent from the last quarter and 61 percent from the same period of last year.

Tencent and national development banks to practice the national “Internet +” strategy (163.com), Rated: A

(Hereinafter referred to as “National Bank”) and Tencent (hereinafter referred to as “Tencent”) in Shenzhen Tencent headquarters signed the “Internet +” development of financial strategic cooperation agreement. “.. In the future, the two sides will be in the Internet + precision poverty alleviation, Internet financial innovation, domestic and international credit financing, Kechuang enterprise cultivation, information technology applications and many other areas of long-term, stable, in-depth and sustainable strategic cooperation. Chairman of the State Development Bank Party Committee, Vice President Zhang Xuguang, Director of the China Development Bank Shenzhen Branch Wu Liangdong, Vice President of Tencent Xie Qinghua, Tencent Internet + Strategic Cooperation General Manager Zhang Wei attended the signing ceremony of strategic cooperation.

European Union

ID Finance Teams Up With Da Vinci Capital to Launch $ 200 Million Fintech Fund (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Marketing fintech firm ID Finance announced on Wednesday it has joined forces with former Elbrus Capital fund manager, Yuri Popov, and asset management Da Vinci Capital to launch FinTech Credit Fund, which is described as a $200 million debt finance fund aimed towards fintech companies with a focus in alternative lending.

ID Finance also reported that the Fund will initially focus on projects within the CIS and European markets. Funding will be provided to companies involved in consumer/SME lending, with balance sheet and marketplace lenders being eligible.  Projects offering analytical solutions for credit scoring based on Big Data, AI and machine learning, as well as SaaS and PaaS solutions and payment services are of particular interest to the Fund and align with the investors’ areas of expertise.

International

GIC to invest in US talent agency (Straits Times), Rated: A

Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, along with Canada’s largest pension fund manager, will invest US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) in American talent management agency WME-IMG.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, in a separate statement, said it would invest about US$400 million for an 8 per cent stake in WME-IMG, which owns brands like Ultimate Fighting Championship and the Miss Universe Organisation.

The US firm also counts the SoftBank Group, Silver Lake Partners and Fidelity Investments among its investors. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Australia/New Zealand

Harmoney’s loss is really a gain (AltFi), Rated: AAA

New Zealand peer-to-peer lender Harmoney’s revenue climbed 63 percent this year, edging the company closer to profitability.  While still loss-making, Harmoney has halved its losses from $NZ14 million last year to $7 million this year.

As well as climbing revenue, its financials were helped by a 15 percent drop in marketing costs, suggesting the company has grown out its brand recognition to a point where it feels comfortable paying less for advertising.

To date, Harmoney has lent more money than any other Kiwi P2P platform.

A new whitepaper by CoreData and HUB24 titled ‘The modern face of advice’, argues that while technological tools were reshaping the wealth management industry, the role of advisers remained critical and the relationship they built with their clients remained more relevant than ever.

The paper, which is based on interviews with advisers, said technology used in advice practices continued to mature and costs, including platform fees and management expense ratios were decreasing to boost bottom line results of firms.

Robo-advice could play a role in tapping into the estimated $2 trillion worth of unadvised savings in Australia but awareness was still in its infancy. However, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC’s) ‘RG255: Providing digital financial product advice to retail clients’suggested robo-advice was here to stay.

India

Lendingkart Group raises $ 10 million in debt funding (Medianama), Rated: AAA

Lendingkart Finance Limited has raised $10 million in debt funding from Kotak Mahindra Bank, Aditya Birla Financial Services, and other financial institutions. The funds will be used to expand its operations to 700 cities and restock its loan book.

Retail banking may lose 55% of business to fintech (livemint), Rated: AAA

The retail banking sector could lose up to 55% of its business to fintech firms if it does not up the ante in terms of investment in digital transformation, according to a new study titled ‘Enterprise Digital Transformation: Evaluating Indian Enterprises’, brought out jointly by research firm Frost & Sullivan and software lobby body, Nasscom.

 

Havas Media bags integrated media mandate of Faircent.com (Exchange 4 Media), Rated: A

Havas Media Group, India has bagged the integrated media duties of Faircent.com, India’s largest peer to peer lending platform. The account will be handled out of the agency’s Gurgaon office.

Digital Disruption: Lending Trends Turn the Next Leaf! (DQ India), Rated: A

Lending in India is hard as only a fraction of people have access to organized credit. Less than 50% of SMEs get access to bank  finance. The lack of access to credit is forcing people to depend on money lenders at high rates of interest. In India, of the over 1.3 bn population, 600 mn is working class, out of which 150 million has access to credit and 20 million have scores acceptable  to banks.

P2P lending provides investors higher returns than investing in mutual funds/ stock markets, which are linked to the stock market and come with a risk of losing money due to their inherent volatile nature. With the lower interest rates, traditional investment tools like FDs and RDs look less attractive to customers.

Peer-to-Peer loans give regular monthly income to the investors in the form of EMIs.

Now own a piece of prime real estate investing a few thousands (India Times), Rated: A

RealX, a pune-based fintech start-up, has completed India’s “first fractional ownership” deal in real estate sector. The platform has bought a commercial property in Karad (Maharashtra) by pooling in investments from about 19 investors, RealX officials claimed.

RealX is an ecommerce platform which will allow property sellers and agents post their saleable property. Registered buyers, on the other side of the platform, could invest in these projects. The minimum investment threshold, currently, is Rs 5 lakh per investor.

Asia

Immediate payments key driver of banking revenue (The Asset), Rated: AAA

Sixty-six percent of banks with live IP systems in place see it as a revenue driver for their institution, which compares to less than 50% for companies without IP systems in place. Moreover, for all banks 53% say that IP will drive revenue growth for their organization, 61% believe that IP will enhance their level of customer service and 60% expect IP to reduce costs.

While 65% of surveyed institutions stated that open APIs would benefit their customer-facing proposition banks differed in their implementation strategy. The majority (55%) of banks opted for immediately creating open APIs and interfaces for developers, while a minority (45%) took a ‘wait and see’ approach.

Source: The Asset

Mastercard and PayPal expand Partnership in Asia (The Asset), Rated: A

The deal will expand PayPal’s presence at the point of sale and enable Masterpass for Braintree merchants in the region. Additionally, both companies will collaborate to create opportunities to leverage Mastercard’s new payment flow technologies, providing increased value to Mastercard cardholders, financial institutions, and PayPal customers. PayPal will also have the opportunity to give consumers and small businesses across Asia-Pacific the ability to cash out funds held in their PayPal accounts to a Mastercard debit card.

Israel

All of Israel’s FinTech innovation geniuses have left the country and taken their brilliant ideas with them (Finance Feeds), Rated: AAA

Israel was never a center of actual trading, but was always synonymous with the brilliant minds that invented every ancillary service from digital marketing and conversion funnels that have brought tremendous efficiency to retail brokerages, Plus500 being a case in point, to social trading networks that have prospered on a gigantic scale across China – read eToro’s efforts with PingAn as very much an example where other social trading ventures wilted and disappeared.

Mr Mandelzis secured $40 million in venture capital from Sequoia Capital and sold the company to ICAP in 2007 for $250 million which became the subject of a Kellog Business School case study.

Where is Mr Mandelzis now? New York.

Optimove consolidates, mines and models customer data, dynamically grouping customers into micro-segments, and forecasting their future behavior and value.

Optimove is headquartered in New York, and is a completely American company.

Social trading has died a death. There is very little evidence of the large firms that used to dominate, and most of that technology came from Israel.

The only one in existence is eToro, which is a social investment platform.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Friday March 17 2017, Daily News Digest

orchard originations

News Comments Today’s main news: CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund announces new global investments. Money360 loan portfolio exceeds $200M. Funding Circle launches C shares offer for the fund. Today’s main analysis: Signs of a turnaround in volumes? Today’s thought-provoking articles: Groundfloor launches tax-deferred real estate investing. China’s yield-strapped investors spark P2P explosion. United States CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund announces new investments […]

orchard originations

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

India

Asia

Africa

News Summary

 

United States

CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund Announces New Investments in Global Growth-Stage Fintech Companies (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund (“CEFIF”), a venture fund investing in growth-stage fintech companies in China and globally, announced at the 2017 LendIt USA Conference in New York that it recently participated in investment transactions in three new fintech companies. LendIt annual conferences are recognized as one of the largest global fintech industry events dedicated to connecting the global fintech and lending communities.

The three investment transactions include Series C financing round in Trumid, an electronic trading platform for the bond market, Series B financing round in WeConvene, an online corporate access management ERP provider for capital markets, and Seed Round financing round in WorldCover, an innovative peer-to-peer insurance network.

Money360 Doubles Loan Portfolio, Exceeds $ 200 Million Mark (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: AAA

Money360 has doubled its portfolio in record time, having surpassed the $200 million mark this month in closed commercial real estate loans, the company announced today.

It took Money360 more than a year and a half to hit the $100 million mark, but less than six months to increase to $200 million, and by year-end, it expects to exceed $500 million in transactions.

The $200 million milestone came on the heels of four recent loan closings totaling nearly $38 million. All of these loans represent a loan-to-value ratio of not more than 75 percent and include:

  • A $16.2 million bridge loan for a single-tenant, 71,132-square-foot office property constructed in 2006 located in Rosemont, Illinois.
  • A $12.3 million bridge loan for a single-tenant suburban office property in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
  • A $7.5 million bridge loan for two industrial buildings in Irvine, California.
  • A $1.9 million permanent loan for an unanchored, 100-percent-leased retail property in Smyrna, Georgia.

Signs of a Turnaround? A Closer Look at Orchard’s 2016 Q4 Report (Orchard Platform), Rated: AAA

Origination numbers fell consistently over the course of 2016, and we have been waiting to see whether that was going to continue or whether we would eventually see an uptick. In Q4, we finally saw an uptick.

Not a huge one. It’s about a 10% increase over Q3 numbers. And that’s still down significantly from the peak last year, about 46% from what we recorded in Q4, 2015.

Charge-off Rate Vintage Curves

Back in 2010, the size of the industry and the volume of loans originated were pretty small. There were also fewer lenders focused on subprime lending. Additionally, a larger percentage of 2010 loans had a term of 36-months. 60-month loans have grown more in later years. 36-month loans have shown a tendency to charge-off at slightly lower rates.

This introduction of new loan products for lower credit quality borrowers in later vintages—i.e. lower lending standards and longer duration loans—means that the 2010 vintage includes not only fewer loans, but the loans tended to be of a higher credit quality. Given those factors, charge-offs are bound to be lower in the 2010 vintage.

More recent years all stack together pretty tightly, within 1-2% of each other in cumulative charge-offs. However, 2014 and 2015 vintages seem to be charging off at a slightly faster rate, at least, as of this latest report.

Borrower Interest Rates

Since Q2 of 2016 we’ve seen borrower rates fall in both Q3, and Q4 by around 1.2%.

Subprime rates are significantly higher. They’re in the 25-40% range. Whereas the prime lenders are going to be in the 8% to maybe 15-20% range. We end up with a weighted average of ~16%.

GROUNDFLOOR Launches Tax Deferred Real-Estate Investing (Press Release Rocket), Rated: AAA

GROUNDFLOOR, the first and only U. S. real estate lending platform open to non-accredited investors and IRA Services Trust Company, the leading innovator of hi-tech Self-Directed Individual Retirement Account (SDIRA) solutions, today announced an initiative to maximize the benefits of tax-deferred investing for retail investors. As a result of the collaborative effort, GROUNDFLOOR will immediately begin inviting investors on their platform to fund their accounts directly through their 401(k)s and IRAs.

GROUNDFLOOR offers real estate investments with different grades that have a range of risk/reward profiles, offering returns ranging from 5% to over 20% so investors can build a diversified portfolio. In 2016 GROUNDFLOOR delivered loans with an average annualized return of 14.16%.* Compared to 2015, in 2016 loan origination volume in dollars grew by 621%, and the dollar value of principal repaid grew by 588%. Only one of the 108 loans repaid to date has returned less than 100% of the principal due back to GROUNDFLOOR’S investors.

At a time when private markets continue to deliver superior returns compared to public markets, most Americans currently saving for retirement can no longer rely solely on traditional stocks, bonds, and mutual funds for growth and yield. At the same time, many investors have been hesitant to participate in SDIRAs because of the expense, burden, and paperwork traditionally associated with the self-directed investment of tax-deferred funds.

GROUNDFLOOR and IRA Services are working together to address these issues head on: IRA Services’ real-time, cloud-based, API-driven retirement investment solution for the P2P industry – the first of its kind – streamlines the once difficult process of investing tax-deferred funds in P2P marketplaces. Meanwhile, GROUNDFLOOR is the only P2P marketplace where both accredited and non-accredited investors can directly invest in private real estate projects on terms they control, rather than turning their money over to a fund.

How Whitepages Turned Their Data into an Identity Verification Tool for Online Lenders (deBanked), Rated: A

Whitepages might be a 20-year old company but the data they’ve amassed over time can add significant value to online lenders, the company claims. Whitepages Pro, which offers identify verification, allows lenders to gauge if an individual is real.

A simple query of an individual’s name, phone number, email, address or business name will return results not easily accessible elsewhere, like how long that person’s email address has been in their system or the likelihood that the email address was generated by a bot, not a real person. A match is good, no match might not be good, they say. Their system can also do things like identify the carrier the phone number belongs to and whether or not that carrier, if it’s VOIP or something, might have a higher propensity for fraud.

Machine Learning is the Future of Marketplace Lending (Due), Rated: A

At LendIt USA, CEO Scott Sanborn shared that his team at Lending Club uses a manual process to dynamically price loans. Unsurprisingly, some loans are more sought after than others, but matching the pricing with demand is a labor-intensive process. With AI and machine learning, Lending Club and other online lenders may be able to rapidly update loan pricing automatically to maximize investor yield and industry profits while ensuring virtually every loan gets funded.

Lending Club, the dominant player in the peer-to-peer lending industry, grades loans from A to G, corresponding to interest rates from 5.32% to 30.99%. While this model is widely accepted and similar systems are used for virtually all bank and private lending, there are flaws in the model.

Airlines use complex algorithms to determine seat prices, but machine learning, commonly called artificial intelligence or AI, to better understand how people are interacting and purchasing. Rather than just increasing prices as the flight date gets closer, a computer could look for purchase trends and dynamically adjust prices on its own rather than leaning on a pre-determined schedule based on a series of inputs.

If this same logic were applied to a lending marketplace like Lending Club, it could look at trends, loan availability across multiple platforms, risk factors, and current interest rates across multiple lending marketplaces to best price loans. This ensures the best results for lenders and borrowers, as every loan would be funded and yields would be optimally set.

Small Biz Lending Approval Rates Surge at Big Banks, Institutional Investors: Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index (Biz2Credit), Rated: A

Loan approval rates at big banks ($10 billion+ in assets) improved to new post-recession highs in February 2017, according to the latest Biz2Credit Small Business Lending IndexTM, the monthly analysis of more than 1,000 small business loan applications on Biz2Credit.com.

Small business loan approval rates at big banks improved to 24.1% in February 2017, marking the seventh consecutive month of increases and the 11th time in a calendar year that approval percentages have increased. Further, loan approval rates at big banks in a year-to-year comparison are up more than one full percentage point, as they slowly creep towards the one-quarter mark.

For the first time in the last six months, loan approval rates at small banks dropped by one-tenth of a percent to 48.8% in February 2017 from 48.9% in January.

Institutional lenders’ loan approval rates improved to 63.5%, reaching a new Index high.

Loan approval rates dropped at alternative lenders in February, as they approved 58.4% of the loan requests they received, down one-tenth of a percent from 58.5% in January.

CFTC Chief Pick Says Commission Should Embrace Fintech (WSJ), Rated: A

J. Christopher Giancarlo, who Mr. Trump tapped Tuesday as the permanent head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said in a speech here Wednesday he has instructed staff to examine the role the agency can play in promoting fintech in the multi-trillion-dollar derivatives markets it oversees.

Mr. Giancarlo has long argued the CFTC should do more to embrace financial technology, which he says has the potential to transform finance, in part by significantly boosting the quality of swaps data that regulators collect from the industry. He has tapped a top CFTC staffer, Jeffrey Bandman, to head the agency’s fintech efforts, according to people familiar with the matter.

‘Sick and tired of no one innovating’: Confessions of a financial tech entrepreneur (Tradestreaming), Rated: A

For the latest in our Confessions series, we spoke to a startup entrepreneur with considerable experience in the banking sector.

So banks are making more money off of high-income customers, and are pushing the startups to take the lower income ones they don’t want?
They would much rather get their tax breaks and give to charity and say they’re doing good for the country than get their hands dirty with a bunch of very subprime demographics. The fintech guys have to go to high risk. If you’re a bank, you can cherry-pick all the rich people and not have as many defaults in a downturn.

What about accelerators and incubator programs where the banks mentor startups. Doesn’t that show their goodwill?
They just steal your ideas. They’re not doing it for the good of their soul. They’re doing it to take a chunk and or steal the idea as you build it and do it themselves.

If it’s so hard to get your product to market, what’s the objective of a startup entrepreneur? Is it just to cash in when you’re acquired by a bank?
If you’re looking to make a little bit of money quick, it’s probably not a bad play, but if you’re actually looking for any kind of change in the world, and you believe in that, it’s not a good move. That’s the reason why people go into this, and I believe I’m one of them. I am bored and sick and tired of no one innovating in the space.

FinTech: Some Limits on Smart Contracts (The National Law Review), Rated: B

Milos Dunjic argues that the Capabilities of Smart Contracts are Overblown because most people misunderstand the fundamental properties of smart contracts and propose ideas that are not implementable on a practical level.

As for scalability, smart contract code must produce the identical outcome in every node that executes it. Dunjic questions whether a large number of distributed nodes all hitting a “funds transfer” API at the same time might look like a self-inflicted DDOS attack on the API. Would each call to the API receive exactly the same response from the API? Reliability must be absolute in a smart contract.

Fintech And Digital Wallets: Innovative Approach vs. Security Concerns (ValueWalk), Rated: B

In CES 2017, Samsung has declared that its Gear 2 will be outfitted with Samsung Pay, the digital wallet application of the organization. In the coming era, we can see more gadget producers integrate advanced wallet services.

Mobile payment procedures including bank transfers and cards are more secure now with the assurance of biometric validation. The unique mark scanner or face identification programming on a few handsets and platforms permit the users to enlist his biometric data with the gadget and from that point utilize them for any transaction when it needs confirmation. On account of biometric validation security vulnerabilities with mobile payment could be limited as it were. In future, we can expect the expansion of such computerized transactions with biometric confirmation constraining the security dangers and ruptures to a base.

Impact Investing Growing Among Alternative Managers (Private Wealth), Rated: B

Impact investing is growing in importance among the alternative investing community, according to a new survey by the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association.

Assets under management in impact investments have grown 18 percent year-over-year for the past three years, according to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). Total industry assets under management in traditional private equity impact investments are estimated to be around $80 billion.

United Kingdom

Funding Circle SME Income Fund launches C shares offer (AltFi), Rated: AAA

THE FUNDING Circle SME Income Fund has launched its first conversion (C) share fundraising as part of plans to raise additional capital over the next 12 months.

The placing is open until 6 April at a price of 100p per C share and the new class will list on the London Stock Exchange on 11 April.

The London-listed investment trust, which invests in loans on the Funding Circle platform, issued a new prospectus in February as it looks to issue up to 500 million new shares over the next 12 months.

China

Yirendai Appoints Chief Credit Officer (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

Yirendai Ltd. (NYSE: YRD) (“Yirendai” or the “Company”), a leading online consumer finance marketplace in China, today announced the appointment of Dr. Yichuan Pei as its Chief Credit Officer.

Dr. Pei will be responsible for the overall management of Yirendai’s Credit Department to ensure that the credit risk of loan portfolio on the Company’s platform is within the Company’s guidelines. He will also work closely with the Company’s Chief Risk Officer, Ms. Yiting Pan, to manage the Risk Management Department. Ms. Yiting Pan is expected to transit from her current position as Yirendai’s Chief Risk Officer into a new role with CreditEase and relocate to the U.S. in the middle of 2017 due to personal reasons. Dr. Pei will take over the full responsibilities of risk management and assume the Chief Risk Officer position at end of the transition period.

China’s yield-strapped investors spark peer-to-peer explosion (Nikkei Asian Review), Rated: AAA

Peer-to-peer lending is surging in China as conventional financial products lose their appeal — creating new opportunities and substantial risks for yield-hungry retail investors.

Outstanding peer-to-peer loans — funds lent by one individual to another through the internet — stood at 885.7 billion yuan ($128 billion) in China at the end of February. That is eight times the level of barely two years ago.

Companies are getting into the game, borrowing hundreds of thousands of yuan in operating capital. Lending services are now offering to choose investments for customers. For funding riskier borrowers, lenders can expect yields on the order of 8-12%. These loans turn over quickly in many cases, often in less than a year.

China’s peer-to-peer lending balance stood at just 103.6 billion yuan at the end of 2014, according Yingcanzixun.com, a site tracking the peer-to-peer industry run by Shanghai Ying Can Investment Management Consulting. Within a year, that surged to 406.1 billion yuan. Lending could top 1.3 trillion yuan by the end of 2017, an executive with Yingcanzixun predicted.

India

V Balakrishnan’s startup Billionloans looking to raise mn shortly (India Times), Rated: AAA

Billionloans, the online lending platform founded by former Infosys CFO V Balakrishnan, is looking at raising $1 million in funding within the next few weeks as it focuses on building a Rs 1000-crore loan book in two-three years.

Because the Billionloans platform functions as a marketplace, it does not take the risk of loan defaults itself. The lending is also done by institutional lenders who have the ability to make collections in case of defaults.

Balakrishnan’s platform will use a potential borrower’s social media behaviour, device information, banking transaction history and the results of a psychometric test to determine intention to repay to issue a score to gauge credit worthiness. The platform uses Micrograam’s underlying technology to issue the score, Balakrishnan said.

 

Asia

Singapore P2P Lender Silver Bullion Hits 1000 Loan Milestone, Over SM Lent (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Launched only 19 months ago, Silver Bullion Pte Ltd‘s bullion has secured P2P loan platform has matched 1000 loans. While it took roughly 13 months to match its first500 loans, it took only another 6 months for Silver Bullion to reach 1000 loans.

Silver Bullion’s bullion secured P2P loan platform has now matched more than S$27M in loans. In Q1 2017, the U.S dollar denominated 12-month loans were matched with an average interest rate of 4.0% p.a while the Singapore dollar denominated 12-month loans had an average interest rate of 4.2% p.a.

Africa

Crowdfunding the solution for SMEs? (Moneyweb), Rated: A

Traditional financial institutions are generally reluctant to serve SMEs due to the high costs associated when assessing these businesses, their volatile balance sheets and the inherent high risks involved with start-up companies. This lack of financing for SMEs has exposed a gap in the South African lending and borrowing market, and has encouraged development in the sphere of social lending, also known as crowdfunding.

Online marketplace lending in South Africa is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional financial institutions, which for years dominated the lending and borrowing market with high interest rates, rigorous red tape, excessive bank charges and inflexible attitudes. Social lending is revolutionising the manner in which SMEs and conventional corporate citizens access funding and it is disrupting traditional understanding of how money is lent and borrowed. Crowdfunding eliminates the need for traditional financial institutions in the context of SMEs and provides consumers with a convenient and flexible online funding platform that offers competitive interest rates, low fees and charges, and advantageous terms and conditions.

Launched in 2012 as the first online marketplace lending platform in South Africa, Rainfin Proprietary Limited (RainFin) has experienced rapid growth and popularity due to its ability to match borrowers directly with lenders.

However, despite the popularity and growth of these crowdfunding platforms in South Africa, they are not free of burdens and restrictions. The National Credit Act 34 of 2005 (NCA) previously allowed an individual to lend up to R500 000 to another individual without being registered as a credit provider.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

SME credit comparison, transparency and regulation – SMART box

SME credit comparison, transparency and regulation – SMART box

SMART box, an initiative started by OnDeck, CAN Capital, and Kabbage voluntarily, will provide small businesses with a standardized pricing comparison tool across all SME credit products. SMART box will allow businesses to easily compare different products from different credit providers  in a simple and organized way to enable an “all-in” pricing for the 20, […]

SME credit comparison, transparency and regulation – SMART box

SMART box, an initiative started by OnDeck, CAN Capital, and Kabbage voluntarily, will provide small businesses with a standardized pricing comparison tool across all SME credit products. SMART box will allow businesses to easily compare different products from different credit providers  in a simple and organized way to enable an “all-in” pricing for the 20, and growing, number of business credit products that already exist.

The need for self-regulation

The Treasury, SEC, FTC, OCC (office of the comptroller of currency), all have released white papers/reports on alternative lending in general and p2p lending in particular. The p2p market has caught everyone’s attention; from Silicon Valley VCs to Wall Street banks and ultimately the regulators.  The industry has been helping the deserving get credit when the banks just vacated the consumer credit and small business lending space due to various reasons. There are also reports of ponzi schemes, usurious interest rates, and fee abuse even for borrowers who are not able to pay on time.

Sooner or later, the SME lending industry would have to be regulated. The big question is whether the framework was going to come from inside the marketplace lending space or will it be imposed by the “Big Brother”. SMART box was launched by the Innovative Lending Platform Association, in partnership with Association for Enterprise Opportunity to exactly pre-empt this situation. SMART box is an initiative predicated on creating a transparent small business lending ecosystem.

Lendio joining the SMART box initiative

Lendio, the marketplace for small business loans, announced on Wednesday July 13th that it will join industry leaders as an early engagement participant in supporting the model small business lending disclosure called the SMART box. As a first step, Lendio is participating in a 90 day national engagement period, where along with other industry players they will discuss and try to find out how SMART box should work. The objective is to identify 2 or 3 metrics that will allow to compare effectively all products from term loans, to factoring, via merchant cash advance, inventory financing and all the remaining 20 or so SME credit product types.

Lendio is a free pure marketplace aggregator with about 75 institutional and fintech lenders on their platform. It is evident that Lendio would love to have transparency as it will be able to offer an industry standard comparison tool to enable prospective borrowers to compare the deals they receive from all the 75 platforms. The clearer the pricing the better the chance of a user comparing different loan options which benefits marketplace aggregators like Lendio.

The industry associations

The founders of Lendio feel there are 5 to 7 different associations having similar principles and goals in the SME lending space. By having multiple associations who all have similar targets with small differences, the resulting discord dilutes and fogs the overall target. Lending Times and Lendio feel that a merger of all similar associations, with a single goal of creating a self regulatory body for SME lenders, will have much more success and will drive a much larger industry adoption.

Similar self regulatory efforts were successful in the commodities trading space where the National Futures Association (NFA) is a self-regulatory body which regulates Future and Commodities Merchants ( FCMs), instead of the CFTC. In comparison, retail currency brokers were unable to organize themselves and as a result Congress forced Retail Foreign Exchange Dealers ( RFED) to be regulated by the NFA, a misfit which led to a reduction from 300 + RFEDs in 2008 down to 5 entities in Q4 2015.

Next steps

While consumers are familiar with annual percentage rate (APR), SME credit products are not all well represented by an APR. Many SME executives use other metrics to gage their repayment capability and cost of credit. In fact, most SMEs care more about cash-flow than APR.

The SMART box initiative is presently conducting surveys to identify the best possible metrics that will in the same time be simple, understandable and will cover the large SME credit product universe effectively. SMART box will consult  nonprofits, regulators, associations and other relevant stakeholders in the community. Lendio feels that there is no one single metric for small business lending that can be used on every credit product. The CEO of Lendio is excited to join Smart Box precisely because the initiative has the nuanced view that there might be a need to have two to three different metrics in order to be able to compare term loans with products like factoring or merchant cash advance.

Kabbage, OnDeck, CAN Capital, Lendio , Lending Tree

Kabbage, OnDeck, CAN Capital, Lendio, and Lending Tree are all part of the SMART Box initiative. To date there are about 20 participating members in this effort. Lendio is also inviting all their 75 partner lenders to join the effort. All lenders should be part of the decision-making process. This will ensure everyone’s buy in with the resulting tools and metrics and that everybody’s products are taken into account.

Benefits of SMART Box

The future effects of the initiative could have larger consequences than one could cursory expect. One school of thought believes that a transparency tool will benefit the cheapest product. However, cheap is not always good and never a good fit for everybody. Transparency will also demistify complicated products.

In all cases consumers will definitely benefit because of the enhanced disclosures and established industry best practices. Consumer satisfaction relaxes the regulator’s urge to force regulation to the space. In general, regulation is best setup by  the space’s own partipants with a good long term vision who understand that ethical business behavior is much more profitable than short term abuse. Perhaps SMART box will allow to drive the industry in this direction.

This will also help lower the cost of capital as investment funds, insurance companies etc would be more comfortable in putting their low-cost long-term money into fintech lending when there is no regulatory overhang on the sector.

Author:

George Popescu